The restrictions enforced to stem the spread of the pandemic accelerated several trends, including the mass migration to flexible, remote work and hybrid work environments. Where and how we work are changing—and so are our communication styles in the workplace.
As businesses continue to navigate the new frontier of remote work, new communication pathways in the workplace are coming into focus. And with these new ways of communicating comes an imperative for new management and technology solutions to help employees work together.
Understanding communication styles in the workplace
To understand how management and technology might open new communication pathways in the workplace, it helps to be familiar with some of the various and common communication styles in the workplace.
- Analytical: Analytical communicators focus on measurable information and base their communications on achieving specific, data-based goals.
- Personal supporter: Personal supporters are goal-oriented and focused on providing information that people need to achieve their goals.
- Functional: Functional communicators zero in on processes, organizing step-by-step approaches to solving problems.
- Controller: Controllers are blunt and direct, emphasizing deadlines and driving people to stay on task.
- Intuitive: Intuitive communicators are more collaborative. They do not get mired in the details, relying instead on group discussion to achieve big-picture results.
Emerging communication styles in the workplace—particularly for management—complement the shift to remote and hybrid work environments. These styles emphasize employee well-being, and they rely on communication and collaboration tools to communicate clearly without creating new learning curves.
Navigating new communication pathways in the workplace
Productivity in the hybrid workforce is predicated on employees feeling valued, connected and useful, wherever they are. Although employees might not miss the physical office, they probably miss its inherent communication capacities. The convenience and disruption of impromptu meetings, the camaraderie and distraction of a watercooler chat, and the relief and obligation of workplace happy hours are all gone with remote work.
Managers must find effective communication practices and communication tools that both enhance productivity and make remote employees feel less isolated.
Managing meetings in a hybrid work environment
For years, conference calls were the cost of doing business remotely. It was often too easy for people gathered in conference rooms to ignore or talk over anyone calling in. Remote workers had a hard time following the conversation, let alone getting a word in.
Remote meeting management is essential to enabling new communication pathways in the workplace. Managers need competence and confidence in the tools deployed and leadership skills to establish and enforce rules and protocols for using them.
Be ready to address potential challenges to could arise during virtual meetings:
- Discourage multitasking to ensure that participants are fully engaged
- Discourage cross-talk, whether in actual conversation or integrated chat features
- Make supplementary content, such as slides and whiteboards, available to everyone
- Manage screen fatigue, which is a major source of burnout
- Communicate asynchronously when possible (in other words, don't schedule a meeting that could be an email)
Lessons from remote learning
Schools adjusted quickly to the dramatic shifts mandated by pandemic lockdowns—and businesses can look to them for clues and cues about communication styles in the workplace in a hybrid environment.
Institutions from elementary schools to graduate schools confronted a digital divide that separated students, staff and communities. Business leaders guiding their organizations through the early stages of migrating to the hybrid environment will need to ensure that their employees have access to a network with near real-time connectivity to support their work and the tools they need to be productive.
Business leaders should prioritize flexibility—whether that means normalizing movement away from the rigid nine-to-five workday, understanding that employees might need to take a call from the road or receiving a meeting agenda over a text message.
Leaders might also need to shift their focus from outcomes to process—for example, benchmark tasks completed instead of hours worked—and support their employees' health and well-being.
Meeting the challenges ahead for new communication styles in the workplace
The shift to remote and hybrid workplaces and the new communication pathways in the workplace they open will create new considerations for business leaders.
The hybrid work environment will drive the adoption of cloud-based collaboration and communication tools. A distributed workforce will also need new and better cyber security measures. Choosing, managing and securing the right solutions and training employees to use them can be daunting. A managed services partner can shoulder some of the burden of infrastructure setup and deployment, freeing leadership and management to focus on helping employees do their best work.
Discover how Verizon can support changing communication styles in the workplace and help define the future of work.